They made the world a better place
Maggie Cassidy

They made the world a better place

BRATTLEBORO — Maggie Cassidy and Tim Cowles were some of the best examples of what it means to “think globally and act locally.”

Tim's dedication to the environment is now legendary, certainly among those who knew him. Decades ago he showed how far he was willing to go to live his values.

Over lunch one day, he said he was thinking of building a house. I asked if he had thought about an earth-sheltered house. He asked “What's that?”

The next time I saw him, he told me he was going to do it. He built a two-bedroom two-story house that required no heat, exterior maintenance, fire insurance, and had very low taxes, all for $40,000.

In doing this, he proved what I suspected: that one could build in this environment, affordably, in a way that required no heat or air conditioning. He found many other ways to live his values - in ways mundane, and at other times radical - in the years that followed.

My most significant memory of Maggie was when we were both hosting couples who were part of a folk dance group from Skopje, Macedonia. I shared no common language with those I was hosting. We managed a little awkwardly the first day, and then Maggie came to the rescue.

I “borrowed” a few beers from my neighbor, and invited her and her guests over the next evening. Serbo-Croatian was among the many languages she spoke, so she translated for us.

We may have expanded our shared vocabulary by a couple words, but somehow that did not matter. My lovely guests and I had connected enough that we were joking with each other, and seemed to have little problem communicating what was needed. I later visited Macedonia, twice, thanks in part to the experience Maggie helped facilitate.

Both Tim and Maggie found many ways to make the world a better place, and they will be sorely missed. My hope is that those of us who knew them will continue in their footsteps.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates